Dry spring fails beef markets

DARKclouds of disappointment forming over a failing spring have maintained the pressure on southern cattle prices this week.

With saleyard supplies ramped up by 25 per cent at major regional and interstate markets compared to a fortnight ago, and direct to works selling opportunities limited to a month in advance, the downturn in physical market demand has trimmed some quotes by as much as 30 to 60 cents a kilogram liveweight compared totwo weeks ago.

Dan Fleming, Glenaroua, sold 12 Angus to $1010 at Euroa, which was a personal best. “I got $700 for steers last year that weighed less,” he said.

The beef industry’s benchmark indicator, Eastern Young Cattle Index, (EYCI) which closed Tuesday trading at 542.75c/kg, has measured this week’s price tumble at 36.26 points or 6.25pc.However gauging its performance over the past fortnight the downturn has now run beyond 9pcafter peaking at a record high of 595c/kg on September 29.

Selling agents however remain optimistic the current spate of the over-supply and cheaper markets could be relatively short-lived.Most agreethat after basking in a winter of exceptionally strong demand, booming demandand record prices that the depth to this current tearawaysupplymaybe relatively modest and adapt for another solid rebound.

That said there are several reasonsfor thesavaging of recentprices.

A weekend of public holidays that darkened abattoirs inall eastern states two weeks ago was followed immediately by a blast of hot and windy30-degree days that sapped limited sub-soil moisture after below-average winter rain.

Add to thisthe revised strengthening of the El Nino weather pattern forecast forthe summer which hasunnerved producers with market-ready cattle. And, on the international scene an equally severe correction in US-market beef and cattle prices and a surge in the Australian dollarto 73 US centshas tipped the bucket on a previously buoyant export demand that drove winter’s higherprices.

Inlocal markets,Pakenham’sMonday sale had aseasonal release of F1-Limousin-crossvealers, with best sales topping at 325c/kg lwtand drafts averaging295 and 305c.

EverittSeeley Bennettsprincipal Les Seeley said although prices were back considerably, they were reduced off recentlofty highsin a market checked by 20-30c. He said yearling steers met reserved demand making 285-312c/kg lwt while yearling heifers made 248-310c/kg.

Bullocks made 270-295c/kg lwt and were back by 10c for equivalent quality.

At Wodonga onTuesday, supply fell by one-third to 2700 after being hammered last week. But a reduced buyer field saw trade prices trimmed by a further 20-25c as steers made 275-310c/kg lwt and heifer sales averaged 266c. Bullocks and grown steer prices again fell sharply to average 278-279c.

At Shepparton onTuesday, cow prices slumped by 25-44c/kg and grown steers by 14-27c as supply numbers remained seasonal high at 3000 head. However the inclusion of a Queensland cow order atWagga Wagga, NSW, on Monday failed tohold cow values as heavy high yielding gradesfell to 203-235c/kg lwt and lean grades lost50c.

Buyers at the rails at Euroa store sale last Wednesday, where prices were cheaper as a result of the sudden hot weather.

Swan Hill agents battled on AFL grand final-eve selling to a restricted buying field, and this Thursday they are set to sell an even larger penning advised at 1853 head.

Barry Ingram, Margni Park Angus, Euroa, and Andrew Green, Red Hill Herefords, Euroa, shared many people’s concerns about the season.

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